May 22, 2014
They’re known at BKW as the SSS but to the people they serve these special students are so much more.
Just ask the terminally ill families at St. Peter’s Hospice as they listen to junior Aaron Collins serenade them with soothing music from his guitar and piano.
Or talk to BKW graduate Brian Chrysler serving in his second tour in Afghanistan when he receives a care package specially wrapped by juniors Anna White and Haley Miller.
Or stop by the local church and chat with residents as they enjoy a hot meal at the NEAT (Not Eating Alone Tonight) dinner served by sophomores Caitlyn Bonniwell and Jessica Rivenburgh.
These are just a few of the dozen or so BKW students who belong to the Students Serving Society, a help group founded in 2000 by students who wanted their volunteer efforts to be directed toward goals they created themselves and invested themselves in.
14-year history of quietly helping others
Though the SSS has been around here for 14 years, the acronym might as well stand for the “Secret Student Society” because many people still don’t know about it.
“We actually prefer it that way,” said BKW High School teacher Jim Lemire, who, himself, volunteers as advisor to the group. “Our students have come to realize that the reward for their volunteerism is the task itself. They do these deeds for the unparalleled sense of satisfaction they receive from knowing they have helped.”
Over a decade and a half more than a generation of BKW students have logged hundreds of volunteer hours on SSS projects almost too numerous to mention. Add to the three previously examples:
- running food and clothing drives for children and adults
- collecting eye glasses for the LensCrafters World Vision program
- tutoring BKW elementary school children in their studies
- creating an anti-drunk driving video for their peers
- organizing “Mix It Up Days” to help break barriers between students and groups at the school
- raising money to fight breast cancer and aid Haitian earthquake and Philippines tsunami relief
- participating in the 30 Hour Famine to raise money for World Vision
- volunteering at the Northeast Regional Food Bank, Hilltowns Resource Center, Berne Firehouse and more
- adopting families for the holidays and making thousands of cards for residents of the Altamont Nursing Home
- rocking AIDS babies and collecting schools supplies and winter clothing for children in need
Teaming up with others
But the SSS volunteers don’t do it alone. Often times, Lemire says, they team up with members of the BKW Key Club or Honor Society so more can get done.
“One of the most enjoyable facets to SSS that I’ve seen,” Lemire says, “is when the students come to a meeting with an idea on how we can help others … then we do it. The other is when a new member does not know how good it feels to volunteer until he or she experiences it for the first time, then they can’t wait to do it again. No pay is needed, no thanks are needed … the helping is truly the reward.”
One of those students is SSS Vice President and BKW junior Lukus Becker, who said he joined the organization because “I strive to do more” in school.
“I like the local work we do for our community,” said Becker, who is also a member of the BKW Student Senate, Key Club and National Honor Society. “It’s very rewarding and it makes you feel proud of your accomplishments in service. It not only connects you to your community and ties you to home but it teaches you leadership and team work – skills I can use in college and the work force.”
SSS President Anna White, a BKW junior, agreed with her classmate. "When Mr. Lemire recommended I join the group I thought it would be an interesting experience because I do enjoy volunteer work and helping others," she said. "I think programs like SSS really help high school students understand the value of helping out and giving back in your community."
So did SSS Secretary Haley Miller, also a BKW junior. “I joined Student Serving Society because it is a great way to get involved with volunteer work within my community,” Miller said. “I love this club because it is a great way for students within my school to have the opportunity to volunteer and it is great to be able to share these opportunities with other volunteer groups and community members. Student Serving Society has broadened my outlook toward my community and I plan to continue to volunteer throughout my life.”
Members of this school year’s SSS are President Anna White, Vice President Lukus Becker, Secretary Haley Miller, Dana Insero, Aaron Collins, Jessica Riverburgh, Caitlyn Bonniwell, Michelle Ferraino, Brodyn Courter, Nicole Sherwin, Stephanie Huether and Kathryn Wray.